Ladies first in 1000-mile enduro

The always ambitious JCC held a 1000-mile race for stripped sports cars at Brooklands in 1932, replacing its former Double-12 race. Advertised as ‘England’s Biggest Race’, attracting nine British teams with 41 cars and racing from 10am to 5pm each day, it was to be run clockwise, missing out the section of banking behind the Hill.

The MG Midgets started at 10am, and the race had not been in progress long when one of Brooklands’ few fatal accidents occurred. H Leeson, in one of the Midgets, apparently lost consciousness before the corner, colliding with the parapet of the road tunnel; the car fell 20 feet off the track onto the road below and Lesson was killed instantly.

After the big cars were released Earl Howe was lapping at 100mph in the 2.3-litre Alfa Romeo and the Talbots impressively at 95mph. The Rileys were closing on the MGs. As Black’s leading MG was refuelled, Sutton’s Riley took the lead followed by Mrs Wisdom and Whitcroft in Rileys. By the end of the first day the Sutton/Harvey Riley led at 84.91mph from the Lewis/Cobb and Saunders /Davies Talbots, then Mrs Wisdom/Miss Richmond were fourth at 84.40mph.

Next day many of the MGs were reluctant to start, and Morris-Goodall’s Aston Martin had its oil heated by a bonfire. Many cars suffered with petrol tank leakages, due to the roughness of the track. The race was notable for the number of retirements which included those of Sutton/Harvey’s Riley, the Alfa Romeo and Waterfield’s Riley.

By 1pm the female crew led, and by 5pm they received the finishing flag having averaged 84.41mph and taking 12hr 23min 53sec, followed by the Saunders/Davies Talbot at 95.43mph and Black/Gibson third in one of the MG Midgets at 75.50mph, with none of the larger cars finishing within the time limit.

This was a notable victory for women drivers; Mrs Elsie Wisdom was well known but Joan Richmond had come over earlier that year from Australia, to compete in the Monte Carlo Rally. It was after that she started racing at Brooklands.